Teaching War Literature Since 9/11

(Roundtable)


American / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

John Casey (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Many faculty came of age in the Post-Vietnam War era. This time period was shaped by the writings of Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried and the films Platoon directed by Oliver Stone, Full Metal Jacket directed by Stanley Kubrick, and The Deer Hunter directed by Michael Cimino. These stories challenged the image of the United States as a land of righteous warriors protecting the world from oppression. Instead, soldiers were the pawns of forces they didn’t understand, forces that were bent on a neo-colonial domination of the world. Then came 9/11 and everything changed. Or did it? The goal of this roundtable is to examine the experience of teaching war fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth century to students for whom the Vietnam War is not even a distant memory, and 9/11 and the War on Terror are not necessarily a matter of interest. Which texts do faculty currently choose to teach in the classroom that cover the theme of war? How do faculty approach their analysis of these texts in the classroom? Which responses does that analysis receive from students? These are just a few of the questions we will consider in this session. Presentations are welcome that discuss film and television provided they focus on characterization and narrative rather than elements of film form. Speakers are also welcome that will provided a global perspective on the teaching of US fiction about war.

The goal of this roundtable is to examine the experience of teaching war fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth century to students for whom the Vietnam War is not even a distant memory, and 9/11 and the War on Terror are not necessarily a matter of interest. Which texts do faculty currently choose to teach in the classroom that cover the theme of war? How do faculty approach their analysis of these texts in the classroom? Which responses does that analysis receive from students? These are just a few of the questions we will consider in this session.